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Pope Francis Holds Special Jubilee Mass for Prisoners

Pope Francis Holds Special Jubilee Mass for Prisoners

Sunday, 06 November 2016 06:44 AM

Pope Francis held a special Jubilee Mass for prisoners in St. Peter's Basilica on Sunday, bringing a message of mercy and hope to inmates from around the world.

Wearing green robes and a white skull cap, Francis stood before a congregation made up of some 1,000 prisoners from 12 countries and their families, as well as prison chaplains and volunteers who work in prisons. The event was part of the Vatican's Holy Year of Mercy, which comes to an end later this month.

"Today we celebrate the Jubilee of Mercy for you and with you, our brothers and sisters who are imprisoned," he told them. He said while breaking the law involves paying the price, "hope must never falter."

"Sometimes, a certain hypocrisy leads to people considering you only as wrongdoers, for whom prison is the sole answer," Francis said in his homily. "We don't think about the possibility that people can change their lives. We put little trust in rehabilitation. But in this way we forget that we are all sinners and often, without being aware of it, we too are prisoners."

Francis has made it a mission of his papacy to encourage greater compassion for the world's most vulnerable people, including the poor, the sick, the elderly, migrants and prisoners. He has also urged governments to consider granting a Holy Year amnesty to prisoners, to find alternatives to incarceration and, at the very least, to abolish the death penalty.

Before the pope's arrival Sunday, several people gave personal testimonies, including those convicted of crimes who had turned their lives around and a mother whose son was murdered. She described her struggle to free herself from hatred and rancor by forming relationships with prisoners, including the man who killed her son.

"I learned that we are two sides of the same medal — pain," said the woman, introduced only by her first name, Elisabetta. Her son's murderer stood by her side, and spoke after her, recalling how when he was given 12 hours of freedom it was Elisabetta who came to spend the hours with him, taking him to her son's grave, where he placed flowers.

Francis also returned Sunday to a favorite theme, the danger he sees in a blind adherence to capitalism and individualism.

"At times we are locked up within our own prejudices or enslaved to the idols of a false sense of wellbeing. At times we get stuck in our own ideologies or absolutize the laws of the market even as they crush other people. At such times, we imprison ourselves behind the walls of individualism and self-sufficiency, deprived of the truth that sets us free," he said.

Next to the altar was a statue of St. Mary holding baby Jesus with a broken chain in his hands, which Francis pointed to and described as a "chain of slavery and imprisonment" that had been broken.

"Every time I enter a prison I ask myself: 'why them and not me?' We all can make mistakes. We have all made mistakes," Francis said.

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Pope Francis held a special Jubilee Mass for prisoners in St. Peter's Basilica on Sunday, bringing a message of mercy and hope to inmates from around the world.Wearing green robes and a white skull cap, Francis stood before a congregation made up of some 1,000 prisoners...
pope, vatican, prisoners, mass
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2016-44-06
Sunday, 06 November 2016 06:44 AM
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